Spotlight Shines On InfiniBand At Supercomputer Show

SGI, Isilon, and others are using the five-year-old, high-speed storage technology in new products.
The InfiniBand interconnect standard, first specified in 2000, is catching on in supercomputing as evidenced by several related announcements at this week’s Supercomputing 2005 trade show in Seattle. SGI unveiled Monday what it said is the industry’s first native server-to-storage InfiniBand solution while Isilon Systems said its clustered storage technology has been partnered with Cisco Systems’ products to bring more than 2,500 InfiniBand switches to the marketplace.

And a semiconductor company, KeyEye, said its single-chip InfiniBand transceiver supports full duplex connections for up to 30 meters over structured copper cabling.

One supercomputing specialist, Ann Fried, chair of Microway, said the progress of InfiniBand has reached the point where systems houses and cluster developers are rushing to take advantage of the robust technology. “InfiniBand is finally starting to take off,” she said.

Indeed, the InfiniBand Trade Association recently moved to broaden the signaling rate of InfiniBand technology to 130Gbps from its current 30Gbps limit.

SGI said its new InfiniBand-based TP9700 sysem provides four 10 Gbps InfiniBand host conections for direct plugging to the InfiniBand fabric. The company said the device is based on Engenio’s 6498 storage system and it interfaces with components from Voltaire and Mellanox Technologies.

Isilon noted that its clustered storage systems have been integrated with Cisco’s Server Fabric Switches, leading to the rapid deployment of their combined systems. Isilon said its IQ products enable clustered storage systems to be deployed without the need for changes to customers’ existing storage systems.

The KeyEye KX1003 is a 4X InfiniBand transceiver that meets industry requirements, the company said.

“The KX1003 allows system integrators to link systems using commonly available, lightweight, and flexible structured copper cabling rather than using the unwieldy and expensive twinaxial InfiniBand cabling,” said Harvey Scull, the company’s president and CEO in a statement. “Moreover, by extending reach to 30 meters, the new transceiver allows developers to build larger scale clusters and expand their network, computing and storage resources.”

The firm added that while the copper cabling can maximize system performance and reliability, even greater performance can be reached via 10Gbps structured cabling solutions.

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